The problem of HIV infections is increasing at an alarming rate in Europe, with EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel calling the problem a "somber reality."
Newly diagnosed HIV infections through heterosexual contact have more than doubled in Western Europe between 1997 and 2002, according to a UN report published on Tuesday. The report shows that infections increased by 122 percent in the period. For homosexual contact, infections increased by 22 percent in 2001-2002. Development Commissioner Louis Michel said that the figures showed "a somber reality which the EU must continue to react to." Brussels said it would table an action plan in April 2005 with "targeted measures" to face up to AIDS and other maladies. A Commission statement announced that the Commission has committed 460 million Euro to the Global fund against AIDS between 2001 and 2006 and that Europe (Brussels plus the Member States) will contribute 2.4 billion over the same period - representing over half of the fund. But campaigners hit back, describing the EU's plans as "not sufficient." Marta Monteso from the Stop the Aids Alliance said, "the EU needs to do much more." She said the Union needed a "more comprehensive approach, focusing on prevention, treatment and care." (EUObserver.com)